The Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are a beautiful and durable choice for any home. They add warmth, elegance, and value to your space. However, they also require proper care and maintenance to keep them looking their best. In this guide, we will show you how to protect your hardwood floors from damage, scratches, stains, and wear and tear. We will also share some tips and tricks to make your hardwood floors shine and last longer.
Why You Should Protect Your Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are not cheap. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of installing hardwood floors ranges from $2,500 to $7,000, depending on the type, size, and quality of the wood. That’s a significant investment that you don’t want to waste. Moreover, hardwood floors are not indestructible. They can suffer from various types of damage, such as:
- Water damage: Water can cause warping, cupping, buckling, or cracking of the wood planks. It can also lead to mold growth and rotting of the subfloor.
- Scratches: Scratches can occur from furniture legs, pet nails, shoes, toys, or other objects that come into contact with the floor. They can make the floor look dull and worn out.
- Stains: Stains can result from spills, dirt, grease, or other substances that penetrate the wood surface. They can be hard to remove and affect the color and appearance of the floor.
- Fading: Fading can happen due to exposure to sunlight or UV rays. It can cause discoloration and loss of luster of the wood finish.
- Dents: Dents can be caused by heavy or sharp objects that drop or drag on the floor. They can create uneven or damaged spots on the floor.
All these types of damage can affect not only the aesthetics but also the functionality and longevity of your hardwood floors. They can also lower the resale value of your home if you decide to sell it in the future. Therefore, it is important to protect your hardwood floors from damage as much as possible. By doing so, you can:
- Preserve the beauty and quality of your hardwood floors
- Extend the lifespan of your hardwood floors
- Save money on repairs or replacements
- Enhance the comfort and safety of your home
- Increase the value and appeal of your home
How to Protect Your Hardwood Floors
Protecting your hardwood floors is not difficult or expensive. It just requires some regular attention and care. Here are some simple and effective ways to protect your hardwood floors from damage:
1. Keep Your Floors Clean
One of the easiest and most important ways to protect your hardwood floors is to keep them clean. Dirt, dust, sand, and other debris can act like sandpaper and scratch your floor surface over time. They can also harbor bacteria and allergens that can affect your health. To keep your hardwood floors clean, you should:
- Sweep or vacuum your floors daily or at least weekly using a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum cleaner with a hardwood floor attachment. Avoid using a beater bar or a rotating brush that can damage your floor finish.
- Mop your floors occasionally using a damp microfiber cloth or mop and a mild cleaner designed for hardwood floors. Avoid using too much water or harsh chemicals that can damage your wood. Wipe up any excess moisture with a dry cloth.
- Remove any spills or stains as soon as possible using a soft cloth and a gentle cleaner. Blot rather than rub the affected area to avoid spreading the stain or scratching the floor.
- Use mats or rugs in high-traffic areas such as entryways, hallways, kitchen, or dining room. They can help trap dirt and moisture before they reach your floor. Make sure to clean them regularly and avoid using rubber-backed or non-slip mats that can trap moisture and damage your floor finish.
2. Prevent Scratches
Scratches are one of the most common causes of damage to hardwood floors. They can occur from various sources such as furniture legs, pet nails, shoes, toys, or other objects that come into contact with the floor. To prevent scratches on hardwood floors, you should:
- Use felt pads or furniture coasters on the bottom of furniture legs that touch the floor. This will help reduce friction and prevent scratches when you move or rearrange your furniture.
- Trim your pet’s nails regularly or use nail caps to prevent them from scratching your floor. You can also provide them with scratching posts or mats to divert their attention.
- Enforce a no-shoes policy in your home or at least avoid wearing high heels or shoes with cleats that can dent or scratch your floor. You can also provide slippers or shoe covers for your guests.
- Keep your children’s toys away from the floor or use soft toys that won’t scratch your floor. You can also designate a play area with a mat or rug for your kids to play on.
- Avoid dragging or dropping heavy or sharp objects on your floor. If you need to move something, use a dolly, a cart, or a blanket to protect your floor.
3. Avoid Water Damage
Water is the enemy of hardwood floors. It can cause warping, cupping, buckling, or cracking of the wood planks. It can also lead to mold growth and rotting of the subfloor. To avoid water damage, you should:
- Keep your floors dry at all times. Avoid wet-mopping, steam-cleaning, or using excessive water to clean your floors. Use a damp cloth or mop instead and wipe up any spills or moisture immediately.
- Control the humidity level in your home. Use a dehumidifier, an air conditioner, or a humidifier to maintain a relative humidity level between 35% and 55%. This will help prevent your wood from expanding or contracting due to moisture changes.
- Seal any gaps or cracks in your floor or between your floor and the wall. This will help prevent water from seeping into your wood or subfloor. You can use wood filler, caulk, or silicone to seal the gaps or cracks.
- Protect your floors from leaks or floods. Check your plumbing, appliances, windows, doors, and roof for any signs of leaks or damage. Fix any issues as soon as possible and call a professional if needed. If you experience a flood, remove any standing water as soon as possible and dry your floors thoroughly with fans or heaters.
4. Prevent Fading
Fading can happen due to exposure to sunlight or UV rays. It can cause discoloration and loss of luster of your wood finish. To prevent fading of your hardwood flooring, you should:
- Limit the amount of sunlight or UV rays that reach your floor. Use curtains, blinds, shades, or window films to block or filter the sunlight or UV rays. You can also use UV-resistant coatings or sealants on your floor finish.
- Rotate your furniture and rugs periodically to prevent uneven fading of your floor. This will help distribute the sunlight or UV rays evenly across your floor and avoid creating noticeable patches of color difference.
- Refinish your floor when it starts to look dull or faded. You can sand and recoat your floor with a new layer of finish to restore its color and shine. You can also stain your floor with a different color if you want to change its appearance.
5. Maintain Your Floor Finish
Your floor finish is the protective layer that covers your wood surface. It helps prevent scratches, stains, water damage, and fading of your wood. To maintain your hardwood floor finish, you should:
- Choose the right type of finish for your floor. There are different types of finishes such as oil-based, water-based, wax-based, polyurethane, acrylic, or natural oils. Each type has its own pros and cons in terms of durability, appearance, maintenance requirements, and environmental impact. Consult a professional or do some research before choosing a finish for your floor.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying and curing the finish. Different types of finishes may require different methods and time frames for application and curing. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid walking on or using your floor until the finish is fully cured.
- Reapply the finish as needed. Depending on the type and quality of the finish, you may need to reapply it every few years or more often to keep it in good condition. You can check the condition of your finish by doing a water drop test: drop some water on your floor and see how it reacts. If it beads up, your finish is still intact; if it soaks in or leaves a mark, your finish needs to be reapplied.
Hardwood floors are a great addition to any home. They offer beauty, durability, and value that can last for decades if properly cared for. By following the tips and tricks we listed in this article, you can protect your hardwood floors from damage and keep them looking their best.